Upsetting the Apple Cart
by Chris Hopkins, Head of Politics

The first ComRes Voting Intention poll of the 2019 General Election campaign is good news for one person and one person only. The poll, on behalf of the Sunday Express, gives Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party a healthy lead over Labour – ComRes’ largest Conservative lead since the 2017 election – and one which, if maintained, will almost certainly return him the keys to No.10 and the Parliamentary majority he craves in order to pass his Brexit deal.

1. While the Labour Party trail on 28% of the vote, some 12 points down on the election result two and a half years ago, the acknowledgement that this campaign is only just beginning is perhaps the only comfort Jeremy Corbyn can take. In 2017 we saw an even greater Conservative lead crumble and, while much has changed since then, there needs to be some caution expressed at this early stage.

2. No pollster could say with any confidence that the lead they’re showing for the Conservatives now will be exactly the same come polling day, and the continual reminder that all polls are a snapshot of the current picture needs reinforcing now more than ever.

3. Despite that, this poll does underline the challenge that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party faces over the next seven weeks. The Conservatives are retaining the 2016 Leave vote far better than the Labour Party are retaining the 2016 Remain vote; while a majority of 2016 Leavers would vote Conservative and only a fifth at the moment are intending to vote for the Brexit Party, the story is far closer among 2016 Remainers, where two in five would vote Labour but almost a third would vote Lib Dem.

4. Despite what the Shadow Cabinet may say, it’s clear where the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Brexit Party stand on the subject of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and while the Labour Party’s message remains cloudy to the public, they’ll continue to split the Remain vote that they’ll need to stand any chance of winning this election.

5. The further challenge to the Labour Party is Corbyn himself. In every metric we tested, Boris Johnson was deemed more suitable by the public, whether that was best Prime Minister, best to represent Britain on the world stage, best to resolve the Brexit debate and even who they’d most like to have Christmas dinner with. Corbyn has to hope that the frequent exposure that an election will bring will change the mind of the public once again, just like it did in 2017.

6. The public, however, seem quite positive about a festive election; a majority disagree that it’ll ruin Christmas, and almost twice as many agree than disagree that it’s the best way to resolve Brexit and allow the country to move on. With an engaged electorate, the stalls are set out for a winter campaign that Jeremy Corbyn is going to have to come from behind in order to upset the apple cart. He’s done it before, but this looks like the Conservative’s election to lose.

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